The Kingdom of God is built on an exchange system. Our rags for his riches, our sins for his forgiveness, our hurt for his healing. This is the message of the Gospel! The life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus makes a way to replace everything sin has brought upon us. But the exchange doesn't stop with our salvation and healing. The exchange is life-long process for those committed to the Kingdom of God.
Jesus will ask you for e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g in your life; it's the process of our sanctification--setting us apart for Him. Upon salvation and surrendering to Jesus, we are giving Jesus permission to rule and reign in our lives. It means our lives are no longer our own. Our finances, plans, job, kids, marriage, even our hobbies and entertainment are to be given to the lordship of Jesus. This sounds controlling and manipulative to those outside of the Kingdom, even to some Christians. Many want to have both the salvation of Jesus and the freedom to do what they want. But Scripture calls that a double-minded man, and has a lot to say about that--none of it good (go take a look). To be truly surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus is to let him tell you what needs to be given to him.
God is a very gracious and patient Father. He doesn't expect us to be perfected in a day. He takes us through the process over our life-time. But many people don't understand that when God is asking you to give him something, it is in exchange for something greater. When he asks you to give him your free time, to give up watching TV or certain shows, it's not to deprive you of fun. When God asks you to give a generous amount of money to a ministry or a person, it's not to deprive you of your needs. When surrendering your job or business to pursue what he has called you to, it's not to make you miserable. Every "ask" from the Good Father comes with an exchange for something greater from His Kingdom.
If someone were to say to you, "I have a brand new version of your car, with all the upgrades; it has that new car smell, and comes with a life-time warranty for all parts. You just have to give me the keys to your old car and it's yours" I am pretty sure you would take it. Right? Who wouldn't take a free upgrade? But our perception of God is stained by experiences with imperfect people. We often have a wounded view of our Heavenly Father so we doubt, don't trust, or just don't even hear him when he talks to us. In the extreme case, some think God is just trying to control, manipulate, and deprive them. And yet if you examine the entirety of Scripture, you won't find one example of God taking something away just to cause hurt, loss, or depravity. Without turning this into a book about the goodness of God, every example of "taking" something away has resulted in greater peace, riches, provision, protection, healing, wholeness, joy, and fulfillment of promise. But we have to be willing to hand over the old keys to get the new ones. Sometimes the reward of our surrender isn't fully seen here in this lifetime. Some riches will be eternal in nature. But think about it--would you rather have a reward that lasts 50-60 years, or one that you have for eternity?
There is no such thing as "loss" in the Kingdom of Heaven. There is surrender unto victory, provision, healing, and empowerment. It is a big thing to give up our businesses, friends, family, familiarity of home, and most of our possessions to answer God's call. But it's not a loss. If we didn't give up our house here, we could never receive the house in Newcastle. If we weren't willing to say good-bye to our friends and family here, we couldn't gain the friendship and family of Centre 61. If we were not willing to leave the perceived security of stable jobs and businesses, we would never gain the faith to trust in God's complete provision. Every ask comes with an even greater reward. To receive it we have to go through a continual process of renewing our mind, allowing Jesus to heal our wounds, and even get delivered of strongholds and demonic oppression keeping us from experiencing the fullness of God's Kingdom.
This past Sunday at Sozo Church we were commissioned to go. This commissioning cost us the surrender of our lives. That is all that some people see. "I could never leave the security of my job!" "I love my life here. My family...my house...my friends..." The excuse for not being willing to hear God's call is the very thing he is trying to upgrade. He wants to exchange the world's poor imitation of life for the real thing.
You can love your life unto death, or you can love your death unto life. Because only in the kingdom of God does death produce life. The world and God's Kingdom are opposite in every way. The world says you have to earn your reward and riches. But God says, "Die to yourself and I will give you the inheritance of Heaven." It has already been earned, but not by you. Jesus has already won the prize. The only way to share in it is to share in his death.
So what is God asking you to lay down and why don't you want to do it? I pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal to you what is holding you back from the next level of surrender, that you would experience the riches of Heaven in your life. What could he have waiting for you?
We go on October 17th. We say good-bye to a lot, but we aren't losing anything. We are gaining an inheritance that we can't earn any other way. Will you join us? You can partner financially and share in the reward of the harvest. Every person that has partnered with us already has said yes to what God has in exchange for them. Will you be next?
Click here to join us!
We are not the first people to enter the mission field. Many greats have gone before us, and I loved reading about them as a kid. Amy Carmichael, Hudson Taylor, Don and Carol Richardson (If you haven't read Peace Child, it's a must read!), Elisabeth and Jim Elliot--just to name a few that I read about and studied. Their stories are both heart-breaking and inspirational. Every one of their stories began with a call. Every one of them had to say, "yes" and leave everything they knew and loved behind. This is the process for every person who is called to go. There are sermons, books, talks, and lectures about the cost of going, the price that missionaries pay to go into the mission field. It's not wrong, there is a cost. We have laid down businesses, goals, plans, friends, home, family, church, and nearly all of our possessions to say yes. I read all the stories of the missionaries I listed above and remember the cost they all paid in the same areas. But reading those stores didn't prepare me for the place we are in now.
This place is somewhere in the in-between.
Over the past few weeks I have been sorting, packing, cleaning, selling, re-sorting, paring down, and cleaning some more. Our clothes and a limited number of our possessions are in black storage bins from Costco that will go on the plane with us. We have minimal furniture in the house. The kids' room is actually clean because they have very little left to actually make a mess with. Although, Judah has rediscovered the joy of shooting everything and everyone with his nerf guns, so there are little blue and orange nerf bullets in every room, even outside in the driveway. I think the next residents of our house will find some in very strange places. But if you have ever moved you are familiar with this process. Living out of boxes, not fully in the house anymore, but not yet in the new one. We have started to say good-bye to friends and family; we have left our businesses and jobs. Our start to the school year was not like others. Things are just different. We are not yet "there," but every day brings us a little farther from "here." It's not just a physical transition though. The process of letting go of items we have had for many years was just a reminder that we are no longer in that time. This transition from "here" to "there" isn't just a geographical one. It marks a new chapter in our life.
I lived in Dublin for just under a year and it so radically impacted me that I wasn't the same coming back. It's a large part of my call to this island today. Three years is going to forever change our family and regardless of wether we return to the US, stay In Ireland, or go to a different country. We will not be returning the same as we were. I am keenly aware that these last few weeks here in Washington are the last days of life as we have known it. It's a strange place to be in. New routines have already started, but like any new routine, it gets interrupted, challenged, and tweaked.
Nothing is as it was, but it also isn't yet as it will be.
I have never heard a missionary speak about this time. But this time is critical; it's part of the process. The Israelites spent 40 years in the in-between. It was here that God showed himself to his people so they could know his ways. God set them up. He brought them into barren desserts, dry lands, and through dangerous kingdoms specifically so He could show himself as provider, healer, and defender. The people hadn't settled in their promised land yet, but they were no longer in Egypt. They weren't yet the rulers of their land, but they were no longer slaves. The wilderness was their training ground, it was in that place that they received invitation from God to all be Priests unto Him; they received instruction, training, guidance, and direction. Without this time in the wilderness, they would have not survived a day in the Promise Land. As it was, they still failed in so many ways. Psalm 95 says that they hardened their hearts and as a result did not know the ways of God. They saw his works, but it did not translate in their hearts to who God is. There were the faithful few, like Joshua and Caleb, who demonstrated what it means to come through the "in-between" in victory. They knew God's promises and held to them when everything looked hopeless to others. They could hear God, trusted his voice, and followed his laws. This is our example for these in-between times.
If you are somewhere in the in-between like we are, take heart, it's not forever (hopefully won't be 40 years). It might feel a little unsettling, confusing, and tiring. But God has given his instruction for making it through this. Learn His ways from what He has done in your life up to this point. Live and work from rest; continue in the last direction He sent you in until He tells you to turn. You might encounter a barren dessert, thirsty land, or intimidating opposition. But it is here in the in-between that God shows up in miraculous and mighty ways. "For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him." 2 Chronicles 16:9
We ask that you continue to pray for us as we learn to walk through this time, not just for ourselves, but with our kids. We haven't done this before, we are learning as we go how to parent and disciple our kids in this time of transition. To be honest, it has been a bit messy at times; challenging, tiring, and frustrating. We haven't been perfect at it. But we are grateful to the Lord and our friends and family who have been walking with us. We are looking forward to sharing with you what comes after being somewhere in the in-between.